If you saw my last post, you know that I recently took a trip to Ghana primarily to do something good and help out those in need. Somewhat surprisingly, the trip had the unintended consequence of really causing me to think about all sorts of things – life, relationships, work and simple living. During my late night web surfing sessions, I stumbled across these guys out in Portland, OR, who have embraced the idea of simple living. They ditched all their “stuff” and now only have the essentials they need to live and be happy, nothing more, nothing less. Plus, they also have a cool website name: Rowdy Kittens! So I thought, what would it look like if we practiced simple HR? I came up with three things we as HR Pros can do immediately to simplify our organizations and increase our impact:
1. Ditch annual performance reviews and the complicated forms that go with them. Make feedback & dialogue easy. Let’s be honest – nobody really likes nor gets anything out of annual reviews anyway. In all my time in HR, I haven’t met anyone who says “I’m so excited to go to work today. It’s annual review day!” There’s a very simple reason no one gets anything out of them. It’s because it’s not how people normally interact with each other. We talk. Sometimes we’re good at it and sometimes not, but the point is it’s a conversation. Instead, we’ve replaced what should be a dialogue between a manager and their employee with so many layers of b.s. that we miss the essence of the conversation – how to help an employee be better at what they do. What about documentation you say? If that’s the first thing that comes to your mind as an HR Pro, then you’re bringing complexity, not simplicity.
2. Boycott complicated, unorganized, unproductive meetings. That’s right, boycott, protest, get up and walk out. Whatever it takes to get the attention of the meeting organizer letting them know it’s not ok to waste our time. How is this an HR Pros problem? Easy – our job is to make sure that all of our employees are equipped with the know how and skills to run an effective meeting which aligns employees with what’s really important for the team to accomplish. No, this isn’t the sexiest of tasks, but if you added up all the time people in organizations spend on unproductive meetings you’d be talking some serious $. Simplify to save $.
3. Make sure every employee knows why they’re working on what they’re working on. Take a walk around this afternoon and ask a random sampling of employees why they’re doing what they’re doing. I’d be willing to bet more than half will give some answer which has nothing to do with the big picture of their team or the organization. But it’s not their fault – it’s our fault for not helping their manager understand how to constantly emphasize how the work they are doing fits into the big picture and makes an impact. Simple. Just talk about it all the time – at every 1:1 or team meeting it should be on the agenda.
That’s it. I know you’re probably looking at this list and saying no way, there’s more to it than that. Well, yes, there is more to it than that if we let complexity creep in. Now, I’m not saying organizations aren’t complex. Of course, they are – but HR doesn’t need to be overly complex to have an impact. Maybe these aren’t the three things that will work for you or your organization, but I bet if you really thought about it, you could simplify your work to the essentials that have the most impact.
Andy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.